Thierry Henry picked up a point in his first Champions League game in charge of Monaco with a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge – but was grateful to Lois Openda for missing a late sitter for the hosts in the Group A clash.
Moussa Sylla scuffed in with his right foot to put the Ligue 1 strugglers ahead in the 31st minute on Wednesday, only for Wesley’s header to level matters as Brugge ended an eight-match losing streak in the competition.
Henry’s managerial debut with Monaco on Saturday had been eventful to say the least, as he witnessed goalkeeper Seydou Sy make a shocking error and Samuel Grandsir receive a red card in a 2-1 loss at Strasbourg.
Radamel Falcao sustained an injury at the weekend, leaving the new man in charge without one of his more seasoned European campaigners.
He also lost Stevan Jovetic after less than 10 minutes due to a right leg injury, yet the visitors overcame his early exit to take the lead, Aleksandr Golovin slipping through a pass through to pick out the run of Sylla, who saw his first-time attempt roll in despite making poor contact.
Crucially, though, the forward failed to double both his and Monaco’s tally when he missed the target with his left foot from a tight angle after rounding keeper Karlo Letica – and the let-off allowed the hosts to level prior to the break.
Hans Vanaken’s right-footed cross from the left flank was met firmly by Wesley, the Brazilian forward steering his header beyond Loic Badiashile – making his first start of the season – in Monaco’s goal.
The 20-year-old keeper was able to deny Emmanuel Bonaventure in the early stages of a second half that saw Brugge firmly in the ascendency.
Their dominance would have been rewarded with a late winner had substitute Openda hit the target with a free header from close range in additional time, the shocking miss letting Henry and Monaco off the hook at the death.
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Henry had spoken on the eve of the game about how he hoped the Champions League fixture could provide an opportunity to build confidence in a squad who have not registered a victory in any competition since the opening day of the Ligue 1 season.
The former France international – making a quick return to Belgian soil following his time working for their national team as part of Roberto Martinez’s staff – will be pleased to have escaped with a draw in the end and, with the reverse fixture to come on November 6 – they hold the upper hand in what appears to be a battle to finish behind Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the group.
Wesley sniper! Brazilian hits the target
Having twice seen goals chalked off by the referee’s assistant for offside – correctly on both occasions, too – it was third time lucky for Wesley when he converted Vanaken’s teasing delivery. The striker was a problem throughout for the away team, particularly using his strength to bother defenders.
Sylla goes from hero to zero
Perhaps fortunate to score with his right foot, Sylla’s failure to convert with his left proved crucial. Had he shown a little more composure to roll his attempt into an empty net – rather than across the face of the goal and beyond the far post – Monaco would have had a two-goal cushion. Instead, their slim lead last less than eight minutes.
Key Opta Facts
– In major European competition, Club Brugge have won just one of their last 17 matches (D4 L12), a 1-0 win in the Europa League against Legia Warsaw in November 2015.
– Club Brugge earned their first point in the competition since December 2005.
– Monaco have not won any of their 11 Champions League matches (D3 L8) since beating Borussia Dortmund in both legs in 2016-17 quarter-final.
– Club Brugge are without a clean sheet in their last 13 home Champions League games (W3 D3 L7), since a 0-0 draw against Lokomotiv Moscow in September 2002.
– At 18 years and 333 days old, Moussa Sylla is the second youngest goalscorer for Monaco in the Champions League after Kylian Mbappe against Manchester City in February 2017 (18 years and 63 days old).
Henry will get to experience his first home game in the job when Monaco host Dijon on Saturday, while Brugge revert back to domestic duties with a trip to Sint-Truiden as they look to keep pace with leaders Genk.